Men who shout at their wives could be jailed under new domestic violence laws announced by home secretary Theresa May.
This Orwellian new law will be introduced as part of a series of amendments to the Serious Crime Bill, which includes a provision against exercising “coercive control” over a partner.
The most concerning thing about this new law is that the interpretation of ‘coercive control’ is very vague and ambiguous and also includes ‘shouting’.
This means that men can face up to five years in prison for shouting at their partner.
Men who hold hands with their spouse can also be perceived as ‘controlling’ and therefore fall foul of the law, under some circumstances.
The legal definition will also be altered to include psychological, as well as physical damage.
This new law will be introduced from tomorrow (January 1st 2015).
In 2011, Theresa May described coercive control as “a complex pattern of abuse using power and psychological control over another — financial control, verbal abuse, forced social isolation. These incidents may vary in seriousness and may be repeated over time.”
May claimed that the new offence was needed because such behaviour in relationships could be “tantamount to torture”.
This new law has been supported by Seema Malhotra, Labour’s shadow anti-domestic violence minister,who, earlier in the year, said that husbands criticising their wives weight or appearance may be guilty of domestic abuse. “It can be part of a pattern of controlling behaviour that leaves people feeling fearful and terrorised in their own homes,” she said, and may be an “indicator of physical abuse in the future”.
The new law will also be extended to families – who are accused of being controlling over relatives. Parents who have dealings with social services could also find themselves at the receiving end of this new amendment.
Talking about the law, May said: “In many cases, dominance over the victim develops and escalates over the years until the perpetrator has complete control. Putting a foot wrong can result in violent outbursts, with victims living in fear for their lives.”
However, even some domestic violence charities have condemned this new legislation. Sandra Horley, the chief executive of Refuge, said that in many cases. ‘coercive control’ will be difficult to prove.
She said: “We already have enough laws – the problem is that they are not being implemented properly. The police don’t even arrest when there is evidence of serious physical violence, so how are police and juries ever going to understand complex concepts like coercive control?
“Controlling behaviour can be incredibly subtle, and isn’t always coercive. Extreme jealousy and possessiveness, for example, can be dressed up to look like care or concern. Providing evidence of such behaviours to satisfy criminal standards is likely to be extremely difficult.”
Erin Pizzey, who in the 1970s set up the network of safe houses now run by Refuge also criticised the move and said that this new law ‘waters down’ the definition of domestic violence.
She said in an interview with the Daily Mail: “Unless you have seen real, shocking abuse as I have, it is difficult to imagine some of the awful violence that people can inflict on each other in the home. And that’s why I’m convinced that bringing other, lesser, wrongs under this same legal umbrella does a great disservice to the women who really suffer.
“At this rate, we’ll all end up under arrest, and that is not a situation that’s going to help the police tackle the cases of true physical violence which must be stamped out.
“People behave badly in relationships because we have human frailties. This is not an area in which the State should meddle; leave it to relationship counsellors and divorce lawyers. They already help people escape toxic relationships.”
She added that the new law will actually result in genuine victims of domestic abuse suffering more, as the authorities will be so bogged down with other less severe domestic “crimes”.
The feedback we have gained from this article has so far been immense. However, some have written to us criticising our take on this new law, citing domestic abuse cases where a person has used mental anguish and psychological damage against their spouse.
Ofcourse, we are not denying the very real and harmful effect this can have on a person’s outlook, but in a way it misses the point.
Should a man (or woman) really go to jail simply on the basis of what they say? The moment it escalates into violence, is the exact moment the law should step in – but not before. Whilst the legislation on the surface is undoubtedly aimed at men who repeatedly abuse their partner, it is worrying in that it can also potentially be used against anyone who raises their voice – or is accused of being verbally threatening.
In the same way that anti-terrorism legislation has been used to take away the freedoms of innocent people, the wide-reaching scope of this law is also concerning.
Let’s be clear – this is not defending domestic bullies, wife beaters or terrorists for that matter. But the way the law stands at the moment, it can have unintended and severe consequences for those who are not violent towards their partner or relative.
Not only do these new amendments do little to protect victims who are actually being beaten by their partners or their families, it also risks criminalising behaviour that would never usually be considered ‘criminal’.
It means that couples who argue on the streets could risk finding themselves falling foul of this new law – especially as domestic violence in the UK does not require the testimony or consent of the alleged victim to press charges.
The law also gives further ammunition to some of the corrupt authorities in the UK who have already been denounced for taking children away from loving parents, as we have documented extensively on the Akashic Times.
While few would disagree that shouting at someone or calling a person names is uncivil, to what extent should the law penalise uncivil behaviour and human frailty?
Essentially, it marks a step forward into a society where the state punishes people and takes away the freedom of its citizens simply for being rude.
To some extent, the criminalising of “verbal abuse” and racist name calling in favour of political correctness has paved the way for such gross intrusions on freedom.
I literally cannot count the number of times I have been called a black so-and-so or the n-word by racist thugs.
My reaction? Give as good as I get and move on. If I were to report every person who shouted at me or called me nasty names, there would be a lot of people in jail right now.
As it happens, I simply don’t believe in wasting police time.
People have been yelling at one another and calling each other names since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, uncivil behaviour and yelling has been part and parcel of human society since we first learned to talk.
But the moment we start to criminalise such behaviour, we take a goose-step forward into the beginning of tyranny, where the state now gets to decide when you should feel offended or in this case abused.
The only function of such laws is to take away the freedom and ability of people to control their own lives – and relationships.
It also diverts valuable police and court time away from concentrating on REAL crimes – like rape and murder.
Do we really want our jails full of men who raised their voice a little too much at their partner? Or people who called someone nasty names or “verbal abuse”? Personally, I’d rather those spaces were reserved for gang rapists, burglars and serial killers.
Yelling at your partner or calling her ‘fat’ ‘ugly’ or any other unpleasant concoction of nasty names should be reserved for the divorce courts and/or mediation services.
I think few civilised people are in favour of any kind of domestic violence, or unprovoked name calling. Furthermore, we already have laws that deal with people who beat their partners to a pulp or assault someone as part of a hate crime.
However, the day that you can face jail time simply for being verbally obnoxious, is the day that freedom takes a back seat and is contrary to the values of a democratic republic.
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